Posts tagged DVD

James Knows…DVDs: Green Lantern: Emerald Knights

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Thanks to Geoff Johns, Green Lantern has become one of my favorite super heroes. Unfortunately, my love for the character doesn’t get past the comics. The live action movie last year was pretty lackluster to say the least and the first animated film left something to be desired. I held out hope for the next one though, titled Green Lantern: Emerald Knights. This time the rest of the Green Lantern Corps would get some time in the spotlight as the movie focuses on a few different members of the Corps, none of them being Hal Jordan.

Although I didn’t think it was as good as the main book, the Green Lantern Corps comic was still pretty decent with some interesting stories and more importantly, some characters that I grew to love. That was nowhere to be found in Emerald Knights as each chapter focused on mostly no-name Lanterns aside from Mogo and Kilowag, although the latter wasn’t really the main focus of that segment. The film should have just been called “Story Time with the Green Lanterns.”

The whole thing centers on new Lantern Arisia. Instead of going through normal new recruit stuff like training or learning how to use this immensely powerful weapon that she’s been given, she’s thrown right into an epic battle that has the Guardians so afraid that they’ve moved out of their fortress on Oa. Sounds reasonable. Hal Jordan (who goes on to bang Arisia in the comic, despite the fact that she’s really only like 13) spins a few yarns about past Lanterns to kill time or get into her pants until the big fight against Krona. This guy has a pretty cool story in the comics where he goes back in time to watch the Big Bang only to inadvertently create the Multiverse and the Anti-Matter universe. The filmmakers decided to skip all that interesting back story and just made him a power mad super villain who throws around Anti-Matter. The Green Lanterns fight him by shooting green beams at him. Hooray!

Outside of All-Star Superman, I’ve been incredibly disappointed by all of the DC animated movies. Each one seems to at least try to be a decent film but just misses the mark entirely. They go after name actors instead of professional voice actors and throw together a hodge-podge of a storyline that sort of resembles a popular arc in the comics. I thought this might be my inner fanboy struggling to be free, but it’s not that. I can accept the idea that some specifics need to change in the transition of the story from the comic to the film, but this is more than that. These movies are just bad. There are huge plot holes in most of them and they’re just uninteresting.

Why I Think Smallville was Broken

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There have been a ton of articles and blog posts about the end of Smallville but this isn’t so much about the finale (which was heavy on the talking and light on the ass-kicking). Instead this is about the series as a whole, or rather one piece of it that I’ve had on my mind for awhile. I’ve seen the entire series. All 10 seasons. The first 9 I watched on DVD and caught the last one on air. Yes, the show outlived its welcome but I f-ing love comic books so I stuck with it. Plus there were the occasional episodes where Clark Kent would do something super heroic or team up with people that had far bigger balls than he did. Most of those really cool episodes were written by Geoff Johns.

Anyway, I thought the series would have benefited tremendously if they had just killed Chloe Sullivan. Now, don’t get me wrong. I like Alison Mack. I think she did a great job and I admire the fact that she actually stuck through it for all 10 seasons. I just think that she would have served the show (and the characters of Superman / Clark Kent and Lois Lane) far better as a martyr.

Picture this. Chloe goes down in some situation where Clark is powerless to do anything. Maybe it’s a terminal disease or maybe it’s some Kryptonite bomb that only she can disable. She dies. Then, Lois has a reason to be a journalist instead of suddenly becoming one around season 7 or so. This way she’s carrying on with what Chloe had wanted to do and she’s honoring her cousin that way. Meanwhile Clark is inspired by what Chloe sacrificed and realizes that he can’t drag his feet anymore. He has to step up to be the hero that the world needs. Bam. He’s Superman. This shit could have happened like 4 years ago. Instead we had this long drawn out series with the writers somewhat clueless as to what to do with Chloe as a character.

Yes, I’m an angry nerd but I just thought that would have been a much better story than what they ended up doing. Granted, depending on who you ask, anything would have been better than what they ended up doing.

CSI: Case of the Week vs. Character Development

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Monica and I just finished up seasons 2 and 3 of CSI. We had watched the first season some time ago and liked the show enough to continue it. After plowing through these two seasons though, it has become evident that the writers of the show are not interested in character development at all. Each episode is the perfect example of the “Case of the Week” type of show. This plagued the first seasons of shows like Smallville and Supernatural however it works to some extent on CSI. It works so well in fact that when the show tries (in a very ham-fisted way) to actual develop some of the characters, it feels unnatural and it just doesn’t fit.

Case in point, the last episode of the second season introduced the idea that Grissom (William Peterson) had a genetic disease that would result in the eventual loss of hearing. This wouldn’t have been that bad but it came completely out of nowhere without a hint of anything like this. It was like the writers realized this was the season finale and needed to do something to actually grow the characters so they tossed in this thing with Grissom. The episode starts and he’s at a doctor’s office like he’s been there a dozen times before.

This continues into the third season only their attempts are a little better. They have a handful of scenes where Grissom has a hard time hearing someone throughout the episodes. Then at the end of the season, completely out of the blue, Sara (Jorja Fox) asks Grissom out on a date like she had her eye on him since she showed up THREE YEARS AGO. Also, Catherine (Marg Helgenberger) finds out some guy is her dad in a horribly acted scene? Sure. Just go with it. They need to stuff a whole season of character development in a single episode.

I think that CSI is the one show that can get away with doing the “Case of the Week” type of show with minimal or just no character development. The show works. It’s entertaining and the lack of an overlying arc doesn’t make the show boring at all. I wonder if this is why the show has done so well in the ratings for so long.

Elementary My Dear House, This is Getting Tired

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Over the past few weeks, Monica and I have cruised through seasons 3, 4, and 5 of House M.D.. It’s been a while since we watched the first two seasons but we were able to dive into the show again without much difficulty. We finished up the fifth season tonight which catches us up to the season that’s currently airing (albeit several months late in order to be up to date on what is airing now).

I have to say that I wasn’t that impressed with season five. I think it’s because the formula of House is getting old. Anyone that’s watched the show knows what the formula is. A patient comes in with a seemingly incurable bizarre disease. House and his team spend the next half hour essentially trying to diagnose the patient using the trial and error method. House talks to Wilson and miraculously knows how to cure the patient. Rinse. Repeat.

The show got by for so long because the cases were actually interesting and honestly I think that many people (myself included) have no idea what 90% of the diseases mentioned are but boy, do they sound scary. Season five started to annoy me though. The main reason was the main character. It’s always bad when you have a show centered around one person who suddenly becomes unlikable. House’s unfriendly demeanor was cute and funny at first. Oh look! He’s saying what we’re all thinking inside but we’re afraid to say. After four straight seasons though this starts to get old. It’s frustrating to watch as House does the same song and dance among the cast and no one has the balls to slap him or to stop enabling him.

I had a similar problem with M*A*S*H. House, just like Hawkeye hasn’t grown as a character. He’s the same now (or at least at the end of season five) as he was in the first episode. Sure, there have been a handful of changes that have been tossed in that have made House think about his life (The offended police officer, the change of teams, various deaths) but they have all been momentary and very short lived.

I think that the writers of the show need to take a page out of their main character’s book. House is known for taking risks that are deemed wildly inappropriate and sometimes offensive but he gets results. Any time that a change came in that may present an interesting dynamic (Cameron taking over for Cuddy) it is ended quickly and everyone goes back to fearing House and making excuses for him. If they had stuck with any of the changes or storylines for more than an episode or three than the show would be more interesting to me.

Maybe they’re afraid though. They are on the Fox Network after all, which is famous for canceling shows on a whim (Firefly I’m looking at you) but at this point, what’s the risk? The show is in it’s sixth season and if the commercial I saw today has anything to do with it, it’s almost exactly the same as any previous season. I’m not all that mad about this. I’m just disappointed. There’s so much potential here (Bryan Singer is an executive producer too) and I feel that it’s wasted right now. Am I the only one that feels this way? Or are other people thinking that House should limp into something more interesting and permanent?

Teaching Kids to Read & Write…From the Dead

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I used to watch a lot of TV when I was a kid. I watched a ton of stuff. Granted, that hasn’t changed too much. Now I just watch DVDs instead of TV as it airs. As a result of this childhood hobby, I have fond memories of shows that were either short-lived or just not watched by a lot of people. These end up popping up in conversation from time to time and a wave of nostalgia flows over me. The shows in question range from C.O.P.S. and Beyond Belief to Out of This World and The Adventures of Pete & Pete and many things in between.

Now when you put my childhood love of watching Television together with my current love of watching DVDs, you get my current excitement when one of these shows come out on DVD. That time has come again in the form of Ghostwriter. Does anyone else remember this non-long-running PBS show?

I used to try to watch Ghostwriter all the time. Unfortunately I didn’t have a concept of time slots back then so I never knew when the show was on. I’d feverishly check the TV Guide channel for when it would come on but more often than not, I’d miss it. As a result, I’d catch episodes sporadically, never really getting the full mystery. Now I’ve got a chance to catch up. I’m worried that the show won’t hold up over time though. I’ve run into a few shows lately where the nostalgia isn’t enough to cover up the dated crap shoot that the show actually was (Fantastic Four and The Flash, I’m looking at you). I’ll add it to my list and see what happens.

This Sucks (HAR HAR! GET IT?) [True Blood: Season 1]

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I heard a lot about HBO’s True Blood as the show was airing but as I’m not a subscriber to the premium cable channel I was unable to watch it. I did however pick up the first season on DVD when it went on sale at Target a few weeks ago. With Monica recovering from the removal of some wisdom teeth, we flew through the episodes in a few days. I have to say that it’s pretty good.

Vampires are real. They can live right next to you and you wouldn’t notice…unless they stepped out into the sunlight. True Blood takes the idea of vampires and casts them as second class citizens. They’re in the place that African Americans were back in the 50s. People are suggesting segregation or outright murder and there’s a Vampire Registration Act floating around Congress. This presents an interesting idea that I’ve only seen once before (Fox’s brilliant, but canceled Greg the Bunny). How would the world react to vampires suddenly revealing themselves all around us?

Set in a small town in Louisiana, True Blood takes us into the life of Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) who can read minds. So right off the bat we’ve got vampires and physics. There’s more but I won’t get into it here. She meets Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) a vampire that’s been around since the Civil War. He saunters into her life with his southern drawl and the two become enamored with each other, almost to Twilight levels of crazy vampire-on-human passion. Murders start happening and fingers are pointed. The town of Bon Temps has a mystery on its hands!

Don’t judge the show by my cynical description. It’s actually really damn good. It’s a great serial with each episode flowing seamlessly into the next. Actually, each episode ends in what feels like the middle of a scene, appropriately enough right after something big or exciting happens which brings me right back for the next episode.

My only actual problem with the show is the DVD packaging. In typical HBO fashion, the package is bulky and a pain in the ass. While not as frustrating as some of their others (ie: The Sopranos, Six Feet Under), it’s still way too big for something that was released in 2009. It’s more like a package that would have been released 10 years prior. There are 5 discs included here and they include a total of 12 episodes. The content could have easily fit onto 4 or even 3 discs. Some discs have only 2 episodes on them and the only features included are commentaries so there’s no excuses really. Plus each disc is on its own side. It’s tough to explain this but basically you have to unfold the case and each fold has a DVD on it so there are 5 folds and one or two extras that list out the episodes. While this might look nice, especially with the big picture on the back, it’s just not practical when DVD packaging is smaller and slimmer than ever before. If HBO didn’t make such great shows, I would be angrier about it.

Anyway, I think it’s saying something that my only complaint about a show is its packaging. True Blood is pretty damn good. The features on the DVDs (with the exception of the commentaries which I haven’t listened to yet) immerse you in the world of the show with vampire PSAs and commercials as well as an In Focus look at Vampires in America. All good stuff but I would have liked to have some more info about the behind-the-scenes, special effects and how they adapted the books into the show. Still a good deal though. Now to wait (im)patiently for the second season to hit DVD.

Rating: ★★★★½

The Consequences of a DVD Addiction

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I’m going to warn you now. This blog post is going to take the long way around. Let’s take you back for a minute. When Monica moved in with me about a year and a half ago, I made a big deal about the fact that her DVDs had been adopted into my DVD collection. I took the good (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) with the bad (Bridget Jones’ Diary) and I treated them like any other DVD that was in my collection, except for the fact that they were immune to possible trading. As a result, the DVDs that I hadn’t seen made their way to my “To Watch” pile. That’s the other thing. I separate my DVDs. On one side are the ones I’ve seen and the other side (more specifically in a corner) are the DVDs that I haven’t seen yet. Despite the fact that I had little to no interest in watching Bring It On it still ended up on the “To Watch” shelf because I hadn’t seen it.

So this is how I ended up watching Sex and the City. (more…)

James Knows…DVDs: How I Met Your Mother – Season 3 (2007)

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There are only a handful of really funny shows on TV right now in my opinion. These include, but are not limited to the likes of 30 Rock, Glee, and How I Met Your Mother. That being said, HIMYM is not a show that I watch as it airs. That’s because I’m still behind and I’m just now getting the opportunity to catch up on previous episodes through the wonders of DVD. I don’t remember how I got into the show, but Monica and I plowed through the first two seasons on DVD so we were eager to check out the next DVDs. We went through the third season in less than a week.

How I Met Your Mother is a very funny show but with a couple major flaws. The whole premise of the show is that in 2030 this guy is telling his kids the story of how he met their mother. Sounds OK, right? Well, it is except that the entire show should theoretically end when he meets the woman that will eventually give birth to his kids. The show isn’t called How I Met and Fell in Love With Your Mother, Got Married and Had You Kids. That title is just far too long. So, with this logic in place, any relationship that Ted (the main character) gets into is doomed to fail because we already know based on the show’s title and premise that he doesn’t end up with any of these girls. As a result, I don’t give a crap about any of his relationships. I just can’t bring myself to do so.

Another big problem with the show is that I hate Ted. Seriously, he’s one of the most annoying and stupid characters I’ve seen on Television. Plus he makes some of the absolute worst decisions I’ve ever seen. What really doesn’t help Ted is his friends, most notably the legendary Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) who steals every single scene he’s in. When Barney is through, Marshall (Jason Segal) is taking what’s left leaving Ted with little to nothing to work with. It’s actually a little sad.

Anyway, despite these two huge problems, this show is hilarious, not to mention incredibly well-written. The writing is very smart and each episode has a unique quirk to it with pieces falling together almost seamlessly. Sometimes it’s little things like a framed newspaper headline in a scene in the future in Marshall’s office that reads “NYC Lawyer Discovers Nessie” which ties in to a previous storyline. Other times though, it’s the shape of an entire episode as was the case with “The Platinum Rule” where 4 stories are told almost simultaneously that each exist a year apart. That’s just impressive.

This season’s episodes were pretty damn funny and this DVD is pretty good as well. There are commentaries, deleted scenes, and a personal favorite: an unrated gag real. There’s also a music video for both “Sandcastles in the Sand” the follow-up to Robin Sparkles Canadian Hit “Let’s Go to the Mall” as well as a video for Marshall’s “You Just Got Slapped” which is a song that’s been stuck in my head for days.

If I can catch up on this season of How I Met Your Mother, I’d consider watching the episodes as they air. I can’t guarantee that because of how I’ve viewed the show already. I think it would be tough to make that transition. I’d go from plowing through an entire season, watching episodes back-to-back-to-back to watching one every week with commercials. That just doesn’t seem that fun. If the show continues to be this consistently funny I’d at least give it a try on-air. Every episode of this season had me literally laughing out loud.

Rating: ★★★★½

What the Hell Happens With These Stephen King Movies?

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stephenkingI’ll be the first to admit that there’s plenty in this world that I don’t understand. These things include but are not limited to: Why girls fart, Why I can’t seem to grow a beard, and Why movies based on great books by Stephen King tend to suck hard. Somehow though, despite my previous strike-outs (I’m looking at you, The Stand), I still had some hope left in me. Then I got hit by a double whammy. I checked out 1408 and then Pet Sematary. I read the story that the former was based on a couple years ago, but I just read Pet Sematary this week so it was very fresh in my mind. Both movies fell flat in my opinion. I just don’t get this. Here you have some fantastic content in the form of King’s books and yet the movies based on these books, often times with screenplays written by King himself, end up coming out like disjointed piles of crap.

I don’t really know what happened with 1408. I remember seeing the trailer awhile ago and thinking “Wow, that looks awesome.” Then I read the story and still wanted to check out the movie. I had heard that the theatrical cut wasn’t great but that the director’s cut was better so I went straight to that one…and was promptly disappointed. What looked to be a great psychological thriller that should scare the crap out of me ended up being an hour and a half of John Cusack throwing a fit in a hotel room. Even the awesomeness of Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t save this one. I can’t comment much on the comparison from the book to the movie because I can’t remember much about the story. Let’s move on though. (more…)

James Knows…DVDs: M*A*S*H – The Martinis & Medicine Collection

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In my quest to consume as many aspects of pop culture as I can in my lifetime, I was led to M*A*S*H, an 11 season long series about doctors in the Korean War. Before diving into this massive box set my only exposure to the show was a scene from a rerun here and there when a show or event was postponed on TV. I quickly changed the channel. If I see an episode on TV now though I’ll probably check it out.

M*A*S*H seems to have a lot of history as it was the show on Television for awhile. The series finale still holds the record for highest rated show of all time. According to the booklet included in this DVD set, about 125 million Americans watched the show’s finale which was about half of the population of the country at the time. That’s insane.

Watching this show now was a bit of a challenge because I saw many aspects of it that felt like they were being copied from other shows. That wasn’t the case though because in many examples, M*A*S*H was the first to do it. These shows that I may have seen first came years later and looked to M*A*S*H for inspiration. The show that I’d compare it to the most would be Scrubs which was also about the medical field, albeit not during war time. The main reason though was not the doctors. It was the way that both shows managed to walk a fine line between comedy and drama. Yes, each show would have great laughs, but they never let you forget that these are doctors and sometimes people die.
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